9 V. Williams vs. S. Stephens
This match is really intriguing. Venus Williams has won 20 Grand Slam singles matches in 2017. 20! She could win up to 22 and take home an 8th major and 3rd US Open title. Her runner-up finishes at Wimbledon and the Australian Open show that she can win majors at this stage of her career. Given that Venus first threatened to win a major at the 1997 US Open, another shot at the title in 2017 seems fitting.
Sloane Stephens was once hailed as the future of women’s tennis. Injuries changed many people’s outlook on Stephens potential. Her summer work in 2017 has involved a number of high profile wins that have placed her squarely again in the discussion of players who will help shape the WTA Tour over the next decade.
Venus Williams is excellent at dictating play and Sloane Stephens is capable of counter-punching at a high level. Therefore, we have a potentially great match on our hands.
I think this match will come down to two or three factors. How high is Venus’ first serve percentage? How much does either player punish the other’s second serve? How many unforced errors does Venus have? How well does Stephens go fromd defense to offense?
My head says that Sloane Stephens will put Venus on the defensive when possible and will grind out a few points she should likely lose. My gut says Venus commands enough points with big serves and returns to let her play take her to another US Open final.
The crowd will be an X Factor. Venus has spent 2 decades at the US Open. The New York crowd tends to embrace veteran players and Venus Williams who first reached the US Open final when Patrick Rafter was fending off Greg Rusedski will get a lot of love. The crowd will be solidly behind Venus. Stephens will need to be sure to avoid any avalanches of momentum in Venus’ favor.
My Prediction: Venus Williams d. Sloane Stephens 7-5, 6-3